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Let’s be real: 2017 was a difficult year for Muslims in the U.S. and around the world. We saw expansions of anti-Muslim policies, heightened white supremacy on the streets, and continued violence against Muslim people internationally.
But 2017 also brought something special: a collective desire to resist, to fill the streets in outrage, and to build across new communities. We saw this in the organized protests at airports across the country when the first Muslim ban was announced, in the politicization of spaces that were until now otherwise silent, and in more and more people demanding the abolition of police, prisons, military, and surveillance.
Activism must be more than just a 2017 trend.
As we enter 2018 with renewed energy, this is a time to challenge ourselves to do more. We should continually critique our work, build more internationally, and take serious steps to ground our organizing.
Even in the beautiful spaces of community and collective struggle we saw in 2017, harm was not wholly absent: Many white organizers failed to see the complexities of their privilege and practiced only surface-level “activism,” uplifting and normalizing problematic imagery and symbols, and, buying into the commodification of the movement.
As we work to build stronger movements and relationships in 2018, let us start with a simple yet important task: continuing to diversify our social media feeds. In our political mobilization and organizing, we must listen to and follow the leadership of those who we are trying to be in solidarity with, both on-the-ground abroad, within our communities locally, and across the internet, virtually.
If our Twitter timelines do not reflect the voices of who we want to support and lift up, we may not be listening as well as we should be.
We have compiled a quick (super non-conclusive) list of brown and Muslim organizers, journalists, thinkers, and creatives from around the world whose words and critiques should be filling your timelines in the new year. You can subscribe to the public Twitter list Amplify These Voices, and read more about these individuals below.
- AirWars is a journalist-led transparency project working to 1) monitor and assess reports of civilian casualties allegedly caused by Coalition, Russian, and other international airstrikes, 2) analyze data from the campaigns to help make sense of the war, 3) archive military claims, and 4) publish news on its findings.
- Ajam Media Collective is an online space devoted to documenting and analyzing cultural, social, and political trends in the diverse Iranian, Central Asian, and diaspora communities.
- Alex Shams is an Iranian-American writer and a Ph.D. student of anthropology at the University of Chicago, who is a co-editor of the Ajam Media Collective.
- Asha Noor is a racial justice and human rights activist, a peace-building and conflict resolution specialist, educator and writer.
- Bilal Sarwary is an Afghan journalist who covers Afghanistan, including at the Afghanistan You Never See Facebook page.
- Darakshan Raja is a community organizer, anti-gender-based violence advocate, and community-based researcher.
- Desis Rising Up & Moving is a community-based social justice organization of working-class South Asian immigrants.
- Devyn Springer is an Atlanta writer, organizer, and artist who recently published his debut book Grayish-black: Poetry from the Ribs.
- Drone Memorial is a virtual memorial to the victims of drone strikes.
- Su’ad Abdul Khabeer is a scholar-artist-activist who uses anthropology and performance to explore the intersections of race and popular culture. Su'ad is currently an associate professor of American Culture and Arab and Muslim American Studies at the University of Michigan. She is the author of Muslim Cool: Race, Religion, and Hip Hop in the United States.
- Emran Feroz is an independent journalist and the founder of Drone Memorial, a virtual memorial for civilian drone strike victims.
- Huwaida Arraf is a Palestinian American attorney and human rights activist, co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement, and former chair of the Free Gaza Movement.
- The Institute for Middle Eastern Understanding is a nonprofit organization that offers journalists facts, analysis, experts, and digital resources about Palestine and Palestinians.
- Iram Ali is a writer and organizer who is currently a campaign manager at MoveOn.org. She has led campaign tactics around the Flint water crisis and worked to provide protest support to various student and immigrant groups as they chose to take a stand against Trump’s hate and bigotry.
- Leila Abdelrazaq is a Detroit-based Palestinian author and artist. Her debut graphic novel Baddawi (Just World Books 2015) was shortlisted for the 2015 Palestine Book Awards and has been translated into three languages. She is also the author and illustrator of The Opening (Tosh Fesh, 2017) as well as a number of zines and short comics.
- Muslim Justice League educates, organizes, and advocates for human and civil rights that are violated or threatened under national security pretexts.
- Muslims Organize is a collective of Muslim women, femmes, and non-binary people of color organizing abd advocating for our communities locally and internationally.
- Ramah Kudaimi is the director of grassroots organizing for the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights. She serves on the board of the Washington Peace Center and is a member of the National Committee of the War Resisters League.
- Vanessa Taylor is a freelance writer and poet whose work focuses on exploring Black womanhood and Muslim identity, and a co-founder of the seminal youth-led organization Black Liberation Project. She is interested in using a multi-disciplinary approach to social justice from on-the-ground activism to finding accessible ways to educate community with writing as a way to make sense of it all.
- War Resisters League is a grassroots anti-militarist organization working to end war and its root causes.
- Young Muslim Collective is a coalition of students from the Twin Cities area, and was started to create change and address the struggles of marginalized Muslims in Minnesota.
- Yumna Al-Arashi is a photographer based between the U.S. and the Middle East. Her work covers travel, fashion, culture, and femininity.
- Zeba Blay is a Ghanaian-born film and culture writer based in New York.